in which we practically slay the 6-9PM monster.

One of the greatest challenges a UofT student will encounter is the 6-9PM monster of a class. These condensed blocks of class will save on commuting time, and maybe even free up days in the week for other activities. Efficiency, however, does not lessen the psychological warfare against fatigue experienced during these classes. As a teacher candidate educated at UofT, we are taught that the attention span of a person is generally equivalent to their age… so I am earnest when I speak of the impossibility of even the most focused and self-motivated among us staying happily engaged for the entirety of a class designed for a person aged 180. I have encountered the monster many a time. I have tried: -       Barreling through as long as my attention span allows before giving up. -       Cellphone distraction to keep my brain from sinking into desolation. -       Half listening while browsing through various websites. -       A lot of doodling…?

IMG_5480my self-in-class-portrait doodle.

After so many encounters over the last four years, I’ve inevitably become wiser in my approach. The most universal answer for reviving fatiguing attention is:



The presence of a large iced cappuccino, or a large steeped tea in my grasp always makes me a little cheerier and preferred foods are grapes, red peppers, Pocky sticks, homemade cookies and gummy bears, which also possess the powers of granting deep satisfaction. Here is a story for proof: In a third year evening class, there was once a professor who only offered a 10-minute break and always ended at 9PM on the hour. To handle the long hours, she often laid a row of chocolates or gummy candies on the bottom of her laptop screen in a tidy row, eating one every 15 minutes. She persevered, and made it through the term. Disclaimer: Don’t eat noisy or odorous snacks or you will risk improving your class time experience at the expense of many others in the room. On a less delicious note, here are three personal strategies for classes that require long hours of concentration: -       Relax! (and I don’t mean drift into unconscious slumber) I’ve discovered that an active mind means a less busy body. Take notes that focus your thoughts on to the lecture (key points, personal thoughts, questions) as opposed to transcribing every word the professor is speaking. -       Recognize the particular habits you resort to when distracted and develop practices to combat them. For example, I leave my phone in my backpack, instead of on the table to avoid scrolling through Instagram every 5 minutes. -       Read the assigned readings beforehand. This can be tricky with the amount of work that piles up as the semester progresses, but it lightens the burden of understanding during class when you are aware of what the professor is referring to. IMG_8050

 a portrait of delightful despondency

To all the lovely people with the 6-9PM monsters, I hope you are a little encouraged and a lot equipped. After all, education is not limited to what you learn intellectually and academically. It is also what you discover about yourself as you learn…like how you can potentially tackle the "monsters" in our school experiences, whether it be long classes, hard classes, many classes or lonely classes.

Share with me the nature of your monsters, and your ways of coping. Which classes are the hardest for you? How do you stay focused in class? What are your favourite snacks?

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